Sustainable Defense Task Force

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 8 months ago

To be fair concerning the brief things I am about to say (and quote), you may go directly to the Sustainable Defense Task Force Report and read the analysis and recommendations yourself.  For now, the summary report at the Marine Corps Times will suffice.

An independent team has made a series of recommendations to Congress to reduce future Defense Department budgets, in light of the country’s growing deficit — including big cuts to the Corps.

The team, dubbed, The Sustainable Defense Task Force, was tapped for the project by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Their suggestions could reduce defense spending by $960 billion from 2011 to 2020.

Ideas include:

• Roll back the size of the Army and Marine Corps as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. The U.S. could save $147 billion over the next decade by reducing the Army’s end strength from 547,400 to 482,400 and the Corps’ from 202,000 to 175,000, the task force says.

• Reduce the number of maneuver units in the Army and Marine Corps. The task force suggests reducing the number of Army brigades from 45 to 42 and the number of Marine infantry battalions from 27 to 24. Doing so would contribute to the $147 billion in savings as the services reduce their end strengths.

• Delay or cancel development of Navy variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The U.S. could save $9.85 billion from 2011 to 2020 by canceling the purchase of JSF jets for the Navy and Marine Corps and buying more affordable F/A-18 jets instead. Doing so would leave the Corps without jump jets once the AV-8 Harrier leaves the service, but the task force argues that capability “has not proved critical to operations in recent wars.”

• End the fielding of new MV-22 Ospreys. The Corps could save $10 billion to $12 billion over the next 10 years by buying new MH-60S and CH-53K helicopters, analysts say. The K variant of the CH-53 is not expected to hit the fleet until at least 2015, but the Navy began replacing outdated CH-46 helicopters early this century with the MH-60 on amphibious assault ships.

• Kill the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program and field cheaper alternatives. The Corps could save at least $8 billion in the next decade by refurbishing cheaper, existing amphibious assault vehicles instead of continuing development of the yet-to-be-fielded EFV, the task force says.

• Reduce military recruiting budgets. The task force does not provide a service-specific breakdown, but says that with a military drawdown underway, the U.S. will not need to spend as much money finding new recruits. Recruiting budgets could be reduced by $5 billion over the next decade.

Some of the proposals — killing the EFV to save money, for example — are hardly new. But the report also includes a second set of proposals authored by Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble, analysts at the conservative Cato Institute in Washington.

In a five-page section at the back of the task force’s 56-page report, the two analysts propose a “strategy of restraint — one that reacts to danger rather than going out in search of it.” If adopted — a big “if” — it would result in deep cuts to the Army and Marine Corps, with the Army reduced from about 560,000 soldiers to 360,000, a 36 percent reduction, and the Corps reduced from 202,000 Marines to 145,000, a 28 percent decrease. The cuts would make the Corps smaller than it has been at any time since 1950, when there were about 74,300 Marines on active duty before the U.S. took an active role in the Korean War.

[ … ]

“We are spending more on our military than we have at any point since World War II,” Preble said. “It’s absurd to think that the type of threats that we‘re dealing with today in 2010 are greater than what we dealt with in 1950 or 1960 or 1970. It’s absolutely absurd.”

No, here is what’s absurd.  Pretending that this has anything to do with saving any significant amount of money via defense cuts.  Recall that we have discussed this depiction of defense spending as a function of GDP (via Instapundit).

This graph also comes from the Cato Institute.  Maybe the analysts at the Cato Institute should talk to each other a little more.  You know, maybe some staff meetings or hallway discussions or something.  Maybe they should do lunch.  With the Obama administration having thrown several trillion dollars into toilet to be flushed away without doing any good whatsoever, the focus on defense spending is disingenuous and hypocritical.  Right before the executive summary, the following quote is strategically placed.

Conservatives needs to hearken back to the Eisenhower heritage, and develop a defense leadership that understands military power is fundamentally premised on the solvency of the American government and vibrancy of the U.S. economy,” Kori Schake, Hoover Institution Fellow and former McCain-Palin Foreign Policy Advisor.

Nice try.  Let’s cut billions out of defense spending in order to counterbalance the trillions we throw away on social engineering programs so that if we ever really do need defense again after we have managed to control ourselves and stay out of fights with the enemy, maybe we will have spent so much on non-defense we will have curtailed our drunken appetite for throwing money away and we can get down to business defending ourselves.

The problem is that the enemy gets the majority vote.  Say what you want about the expeditionary warfare concept, the 100 or so nations in which we currently have troops deployed and based, and the supposed meddling we do in the affairs of others.  It keeps the fight abroad instead of at home.  For those who wish to wait for the fight to come to our doorstep, be careful what you wish for and consider just what it would be like.

I have been as hard on the big plans for the Marine Corps as anyone.  I dominate Google rankings for expeditionary warfare and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  I oppose it (the EFV) in all its manifestations.  I have advocated a much lighter, and more air-mobile Corps, with reliance on forcible entry via air (a new helicopter fleet) rather than via sea, to allow the Navy to set up shop after the Marines have secured a beachhead.  Relying on the hugely expensive and very heavy EFV is profoundly unwise.  I have also opposed the money for the F-35 because it isn’t half the aircraft that the F-22 is, and it has had halting production efficiency.

But the authors have crossed the Rubicon.  They’re talking about massive reductions in infantry battalions.  Don’t be fooled.  Good Infantry Battalions can’t be stood up easy, cheap or fast.  We are left with our pants down if we follow the advice of this report sanctioned by this group of bipartisan lawmakers.  And for the record, while I like the generally libertarian approach to domestic lawmaking, Ron Paul’s views of national defense are naive and childish.  Any study co-sponsored by Barney Frank and Ron Paul should immediately raise your hackles.

In the future, I have a better idea for saving money.  Rather than pay these analysts to reiterate this same claptrap, next time pay me ten percent of what you would otherwise spend and I’ll cut through the crap in one tenth of the words.  One tenth the words for one tenth the cost.  If Congress doesn’t recognize that as a deal, they can’t be trusted with our money.

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16 Comments on "Sustainable Defense Task Force"

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Warbucks
Member

Before the American people or their representatives can grasp the true needs of our defense budget a reasonable assessment needs to include deep black-ops budget sources in summary form as well.

Black-Ops Manpower , 600,000+- people, annual cost: .$________
Black-Ops Equipment maintenance & Repairs:…………. $________
Black-Ops R&D ………………………………………………. $________

Otherwise we are just squeezing water balloons and thinking something real is being cut when we sacrifice here and watch it shrink, never noticing it ballooned-up over there, hidden from view.

Ben
Member
Who exactly is going to follow us home and attack us if pull out of Europe? If we leave the Korean peninsula, is North Korea going to overrun South Korea, which has an economy 30 times bigger and a far better army and then build a real navy and attack California? Most of our deployments inject us into conflicts, or potential conflicts, that need not concern us. We can still debate whether it is nonetheless wise to be involved in each case. But what’s childish and naive is the idea that we fight them there to stay safe here. The recommendations we make for cutting the size of the ground forces are based on two assumptions about strategy. The first is that we have fewer conventional wars to fight than in the past, especially if we stop defending allies that can defend themselves. The second is that we ought to avoid occupying countries on a large-scale in the name of counterterrorism. If you want to occupy some more countries that would prefer otherwise and maybe fight a land war in Asia in the near future, then yes, you shouldn’t be for these cuts to the ground forces. It is indisputable… Read more »
Ben
Member
The report is not about entitlement spending or non-military discretionary spending. It’s about defense. We spend more on defense than we spend on all discretionary spending. We spend roughly more than 40% than we spent in 2000, adjusting for inflation and leaving out the wars. So clearly defense spending contributes to the deficit. To say so is not to suggest that other programs should avoid scrutiny or cuts or that you can balance the budget by cutting military spending alone. We claim no more prescience than hawks. They have a view of the future that tells them that we should essentially buy more insurance against security dangers. We have a competing view of what the future requires, and say we would rather use some of that money to mitigate other risks. There are risks and uncertainties on both sides. We are not trying to gut the infantry. We are saying let’s have roughly 500,000 people active in both services. I think heavy divisions are great things to have around and wouldn’t want to do without them. What we’re after is radical only in comparison to the status quo. If we were building a military from scratch, and you looked around… Read more »
Warbucks
Member

And the 3rd point is, we should follow the spirit of the Constitution with a “Declaration of War” before we go waring around the neighborhood.

James Harris
Member
Count me as one of those supporting the notion that defense cuts are nuts. Further, in previous posts, I’ve even disagreed with the notion that some of the new toys are not necessary. I think many of them are, in the context of strategic and tactical “function” requirements, if not the actual implementation. But I specifically want to address the phrases “… follow the spirit of the Constitution…” and “… declare war before (warring) …” etc. I consider myself a “strict constructionist” (or nearly so) on the Constitution, lest we make it a meaningless anacronysm. I disagree with the “living constitution” concept that enables some jurists and others to remake society as they would like without going through the messy and uncertain process of constitutional amendments. But that said, I would ask what it means to “follow the spirit” (if not the letter) of the Constitution where a “Declaration of War” is concerned, especially in modern time. What does a “Declaration of War” look like, anyway? Is there just one format? Specified where? Must it unambiguously and always contain the words “We the Congress of the U.S. Declare War on … (whomever)?” OR, does the fact that (with or without… Read more »
TSAlfabet
Member
Where to start? First, as to the exchange between the Captain and Mr. Friedman, I want to applaud both for their civil and rationale exchange. This blog is incredibly valuable as a means for allowing the public debate of vital policy issues. The fact that one of the authors from the Cato Institute took the time to engage in a meaningful way is encouraging. Too often our political discourse is short-circuited by an absolute refusal respond rationally to well-conceived critiques. That said I am a big fan of the old saw that we not lose the forest for the trees. I believe the Captain touched on this, but it cannot be overemphasized that this kind of policy Report cannot, *ever*, be considered in isolation from the larger realities. One of these “larger realities” is the political environment which has both given birth to this Report and which will receive and implement this Report. This political environment is a White House, House and Senate that are currently controlled, in the main, by Statists– those who believe that a strong, central government is good and necessary and believe in more government spending and more bureaucracy and more central control. This is undeniable… Read more »
Warbucks
Member

It looks like this: …”Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared”….

Warbucks
Member
Over the past few years I have been on am amazing fact-finding discovery mission and have been staggered to learn a few things at the personal level of experience: (1) There is another real science in black-ops which is unlike anything taught in our schools, generally referred to as subquantum kinetics, which does a better job of describing reality than relativistic space-time or Newtonian Mechanistic models (2) black ops has weapons and equipment so far advanced over anything the public is allowed to know, even the new X-51 Waverider pales in comparison, (3) with 850,000 top secrete Americans and their smattering of Super Users, there are another 600,000 Above-Top-Secrete still unaccounted for even in that number (4) Unless with begin full disclosure to the American public and the rest of the world, there will be no “Republic” for American soldiers to protect. (5) Liberty, Freedom, and the pursuit of happiness can be a thing of the past within 5 years. Tyranny is closing in on us faster than we can shake it loose and the enemies of freedom are world wide, with a large and powerful share right here in the USA. So while we argue over a billion here… Read more »
Warbucks
Member
Warbucks
Member

Here is another released advancement, the technology of which we do not yet understand, called “Trophy”, which claims to stop inbound kinetic weapons. Trophy is some sort of energy wall being used on mobile armored vehicles.

One of its 8 marketing claims (seen 2 min 58 secs into the Youtube Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62jzAupr044)) clearly states: REDUCES PLATFORM WEIGHT as feature number 5 of 8 features.

The video does not state that it will stop dumb-bullets. All the inbound kinetic weapons appear to include some sort of trigger device which would include electronic circuitry. Trophy would seem to set up a strong magnetic spherical protective shield that gives a false target-contact signal to the weapon’s triggering mechanism, which in turn detonates the device prematurely, rendering the incoming weapon’s armor piercing kinetics useless.

But even still, the statement that the device REDUCES PLATFORM WEIGHT is quite profound and would seem to represent the first time I have seen a defense contractor promote such a anti-gravity marketing disclosure.

Warbucks
Member

If I had to guess about how Trophy functions after reading “Secrets of Anti-gravity Propulsion” by Dr. Paul A. LaViolette, Ph.D.-physics, I would guess that there is a phase-conjugate mircrowave beam that is transmitted to a permanent sensor probe shield. This would require considerable electric power. A tank would be large enough to carry such a device.

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The Captain's Journal » G-RAMM, the EFV and the Fundamental Paradox of the Marine Corps Vision

[…] have been a staunch defender of the military in light of demand for budgetary cuts.  In light of the difficulties associated with startup of […]

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Stewart J. Lawrence: Obama Needs to Run on His Foreign Policy Record | Rumors & News | Information Without Filters!

[…] and the Marines will decline by a remarkable 10-15 percent over the next decade, and a possible 36 percent over the long haul. And base closures, already on the increase, will accelerate. The Obama shift […]

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You are currently reading "Sustainable Defense Task Force", entry #5219 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Army,Department of Defense,Expeditionary Warfare,Marine Corps and was published July 13th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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